Part 102: The Final FrontierUpdate 55: The Final Frontier
"So let me get this straight. Right now we're on a quest to find a key to unlock a stairway to some clouds so the prince can go get married, all because of some prophecy that it's the Dragon Pharaoh's job to fulfil."
"Sounds about right. What's your point?"
"All I'm saying is we saved all life on Xeen from extinction and now we're acting as glorified valets. Seems like a bit of a step down."
"Looks like this is where they keep all the mummies. And where there's mummies, there's golden sarcophagi full of priceless treasure!"
"How do you mummify a ghost? That doesn't even begin to make sense."
Opening a sarcophagus (which requires a Might of at least 200) liberates a Ghost Mummy. It can cause 200-1000 damage and possible aging with its physical attack... but we've got enough armour that it's very unlikely to hit anyone, and it's only got 500 HP so pretty much anyone in the party can one-shot it.
Searching each sarcophagus reveals a single top-tier item.
"Fubar not feeling great right now. Knew it was bad idea to skip brunch."
The sarcophagus inflicts 25 levels of the Cursed condition on the opener, while searching it for treasure inflicts another 25 levels of curse plus a disease. It's possible for your sarcophagus-opener to die of bad luck if you're not paying attention: in fact, that's probably a bigger threat than the mummies.
"Even if we want to pay, not have that kind of money."
"This is the rudest candle I've ever met. Wait, what's happ--"
"We have fallen victim to a protection racket run by a candle. It is not our finest of hours."
Refusing the candle's offer puts the party in the corner of a big hallway full of blade traps. Jump spells are helpful in minimising the damage we have to take on the way back.
If we'd agreed to pay, the game would have noticed we didn't have 2 million gold and refused to let us buy protection, but we'd still have stayed where we were. That would have been the smart option, which is why I didn't pick it.
"I don't see what's so super about it, but maybe some bits of someone famous fell off in there! Relics are a big collector's item these days, you know."
"Ow. Apparently it's mostly just super acidic."
The super embalming fluid inflicts 5000 poison damage but grants two levels' worth of experience... which has now gone from practically useless to actually useless, since even if we had enough gold for training, everyone's got enough experience to hit level 200 already.
Regular embalming fluid just does the damage without the experience bonus, and should be left alone.
"Oh no, not this again."
If we were able to pay the two candles, they'd disable the swinging blades and guillotines respectively. The blades will still be there, but they won't do any damage. Since we don't have a lazy two million sitting around, we'll just have to endure the damage when we go through here.
By the way, if you do pay one of the candles, it'll offer you a second deal if you talk to it again.
This time, it's a lot more polite if you refuse.
Which you probably should, because this is the "clue" you get. (An evil laugh sound effect plays if you buy the clue, just to rub it in.)
"Funny place for old folks' home. Usually elderly prefer more sunlight and less blade traps. Good climate, at least."
"First the candles, now this. Why is this whole dungeon being such a jerk to us?"
"Fine! If we can't go up, we'll go down instead!"
"Good advice. Especially not feed selves to dragons."
"If this was a bad place for an old folks' home, it's an even worse place for a preschool."
"Oh, okay, it's going to be part of a riddle. That makes more sense."
"Fubar remember these guys! Like looking into face of old friend. Old, huge, rotting friend who want to eat us."
Remember the Dragon Mummies from Castle Kalindra's dungeon? The Southern Sphinx's dungeon has a lot of them. Like, a lot a lot. It's a good thing everyone has an armour class of 250 or better with buffs, because even with all our HP, they still hit hard enough to one-shot half the party if their attacks land. If you've sold all your good AC-boosting armour in favour of stat boosts and elemental resistances, you'd better either try to get Dragon Sleep to stick or spam Mass Distortion and Implosion and hope for the best. Holy Word doesn't work because the game considers them to be dragons rather than undead, and apparently they can't be both at once.
"Welp, fortune favours the bold. Down the hatch!"
"I see no possible way in which this could go wrong."
"How come when you take some kind of crazy risk it usually pays off and when I do it it just gets me killed?"
"Probably we just don't remember all the times I got killed because you're always there to heal me."
"Awww, that was almost a compliment."
If you're still feeling the need for level boosts, there's plenty of them down here.
"My wizardly eyes are telling me of secrets once more!"
"Heh, you thought your fancy sphinx treasures were safe here, but you weren't countin' on us!"
"Stop! I have a bad feeling about this treasure pile."
"How about that treasure pile over there instead?"
"That's still pretty much part of the same pile..."
"See? Nothin' to worry about."
"Let's not push our luck. We should leave the rest where it is."
"Pft. You're no fun."
This treasure pile in the northwest corner of the room contains two million gold and ten top-tier random items. It's also the only one you can actually take. Touch any of the others...
... and you get this message, followed by eradication for the whole party. You don't even have the chance to get an advance warning from Clairvoyance and back out: it happens as soon as you even try to interact with the treasure.
"Hm. More of these lessons. First R, then C, and over there I, A, P and D."
"What kind of a messed-up name is that?"
"Messed up... may be on to something there."
In order to advance to the top level of the Southern Sphinx, you have to reach the stairs in the Home of the Aged without any characters being cursed. This is harder than it sounds: not only do the sarcophagi curse you, but there are some spaces on the floor that curse characters if stepped on. I imagine the intent was that you'd carefully map them out and avoid them, but you could just cast Divine Intervention to cure the curse once you get to the stairs instead, or head to a temple and Lloyd's Beacon your way right back here.
In the original release of World of Xeen (for Mac, at least; I'm not sure about other platforms), the stairs would act as if you were cursed even if you weren't, making it impossible to progress past this point and therefore rendering the postgame unwinnable. I'm playing a patched version that fixes that bug.
"Diprac? Carpid? Pradic? Icdarp? Picard?"
"Only so many ways to combine those letters into something you can pronounce. Had to get it right eventually."
"Why would a sphinx keep books inside its head? Its eyes are out there!"
"I think I'm gonna hold on to this one. Uh, just so that Sloof doesn't get his mitts on it and get any more weird ideas, of course."
"Smoking bad for health. Then again, same warning applicable to blade traps and embalming fluid."
...his stride. The sword flashed twice, and two more beggars went down. "Now where was I? Oh, yeah..."
"I suppose this means we don't have to worry about being too murderously sociopathic for the sphinx's liking."
...witnessing the fate of his fellow...
"At least we sometimes have epic battle against evil dragon or tyrant to balance out violence against lumpenproletariat."
The sarcophagi in the sphinx's head contain Phase Mummies, which drain spell points instead of causing aging but are otherwise broadly similar to Ghost Mummies. There's no treasure in these sarcophagi, unfortunately.
"This throne made for us, most legendary heroes on Xeen!"
Remember the thrones in the Northern Sphinx that could only be sat in by a particular race and granted an award like "Legendary Human" or "Legendary Elf"? If you have the award from sitting in the appropriate throne, this throne does nothing; if you don't, it eradicates you. There's no reason to sit in it.
"At last, we have earned an audience with... the sphinx? Whoever is in charge of the sphinx? I'm not entirely clear on how this sphinx business works."
"Have you heard of it?"
"Sounds made up to me. You sure you're not just giving us a fake quest to get rid of us?"
"Wait, that rings a bell."
"Indeed! Halon granted us this widget in exchange for our lava rock! It is a good thing we invested in fireproof backpack lining!"
Bet you weren't expecting the random old dude who sent the party to fetch a rock to be part of an essential postgame quest.
"I dunno. Can't you sweeten the deal a little? Throw in some of the gold we didn't already steal from you or something?"
"Very well. For the sake of Xeen's destiny, we shall give you our widget."
This technically isn't a "but thou must" situation: you can say no again and the conversation will end. On the other hand, you can't finish the postgame without forking over the widget to him sooner or later, so it boils down to the same thing.
"Let's do this. Not like I'm gonna find another buyer for something this obscure anyway."
"Yeah, same. See you on the flip side. Maybe literally, if you're ever in Castleview."
I immediately went out and spent all the gold we found in the Southern Sphinx on training, so between that and the dragon embalmer, the party's gained even more mostly superfluous levels. There's only one place left where we might find foes worthy of our current skills: the ultimate challenge for all adventurers in Xeen. Next update, the party will take on the Dungeon of Death!